BEAST reads Atlas Shrugged, so you don’t have to!
Ya get it? Ya get it?
It’s time for another riveting edition of As The Rotor Turns! I promise (lies) that you’ll be on the edge of your seat (and out the door, and retching at the curb). The fellas will thrill to freight loads of action packed monologues, the ladies will swoon to monotonous digressions about trivial bourgeois angst and scenes of gratuitous rape! People of indeterminate genders or conflicted sexual orientations will do combinations of things not definable without resorting to Latin, as indistinctly drawn characters expound on a philosophy of total apathy toward human suffering!
We join our band of indistinguishable monologists as our primary straw-man, Dags’s whiny brother Jim, is confronted by his shabby, insecure wife Cherryl. In spite of her humble beginnings as a shop girl, she has an inexplicable mean streak and sympathy for oligarchs that I can only speculate served as inspiration for Tea Party mongoloids. But that’d mean they read the book (or any book), casting doubt on my hypothesis. She plead with Jimbo to relieve her suspicions that he might not be the ruthless sociopath she fell in love with (e.g. grew co-dependent with for self-esteem), and gravely accuses him of doing things for reasons outside of sterile commerce. Like any typical wife, she’s well familiar with her husband’s philosophical mentors, and tries in vain to convince her verbally abusive, solicitous mate that he’s fallen prey — like so many friends I’ve lost — to the seductive allure of postmodern praxis and epistemological nihilism. You can really feel where a skilled writer might have written pain into her voice; notes of misery squishing out like excess mortar between the cinder blocks of sophomoric pretense.
If you recall Jim and Cherryl’s first meeting, it began with a despondent (or cheerful, I don’t recall which, and it doesn’t matter) Jim ducking into a non-train-related shop. Thus it was a guilty, shameful trip like one of Winston Smith’s surreptitious visits to Carrington’s. Only Jim wasn’t there for souvenir paperweights to remind him of his humanity, but to fetch Ayn some badly needed plot convenience — like what would evolve into an over-the-top demonstration of romantic Doing it Wrong as a foil to the correct (Randian) procedures for courtship. As any woman would be, Cher was immediately taken by the sweaty, balding tycoon, perhaps subconsciously titillated by the train metaphors abundant in films she’d watched, whiling away her jejune proletarian youth. He almost blew it, though, by talking about helping people. She was repulsed at the possibility he might’ve been serious!
The picture of a man walking the razor’s edge between sexual frustration and paralyzing bitterness, he corrected course, and told her what she wanted to hear: that he was a soulless husk of a creature, driven only to accumulate disposable income as a matter of principle, and that he was responsible for the hilariously named “John Galt Line.” It was of course the brainchild (vanity project) of his sister — incidentally and mercifully, probably the closest thing to an actual child she’ll disgorge into this world (just like her creator; though in fairness the hardback of this book probably weighs 8lbs easy, and it could plausibly be imagined originating from some unnatural orifice).
Despairingly, Cherryl threatens that if Jim isn’t the mindless crocodile she prayed he was — obsessed with his work, and devoid of defining human traits — she doesn’t understand what’s left for her to possibly love. Note that Rand makes zero distinction between love and admire or even worship. Possibly because she had ample suck-up “admirers” in her domineering personality cult, but doubtfully many suitors. One does what one must to contort reality into something almost tolerable (MDMA works). I know what you’re thinking: What woman doesn’t want a guy narrowly focused on his career, to the blind exclusion of everything else? What thrills a wife more than a train yard, the sound of shuffling papers, and a long, one-sided discussion of commercial transportation logistics? Sadly, there are far too many ladies interested in emotional openness and empathy, because they have this vestigial drive to raise small children — or something to that effect. Their prevalence might lead one to suppose it’s Rand who’s the freak show. Objectively speaking, they are DOING IT WRONG.™ Only a childless, antisocial author, permanently traumatized by communist nationalization can truly understand true love.
And what is this love? It’s meaningless. So pontificates Cherryl, aghast at Jim’s despicable demand that she should love him for himself, rather than his accomplishments, like rising profit margins, targets being met, and the founding of railroads.
That’s right, kids: If you believe in unconditional love, Rand is waiting with a wearying speech to prove you wrong.
Once again, you have to look at the pathology of the author to make sense of this. Her face would go unnoticed resting on the stoop come late October. She defined herself by her mind, which she mistakenly concluded, in measured against her appearance, was something other than a lateral comparison. If she could wrestle that contention into mattering, she could disempower people with advantages in the looks department.
Some people call it self delusion. I call it home.
It wouldn’t be a problem if her rabid certainty about things hadn’t appealed to so many deranged, weak-willed people. But maybe I’m giving her too much credit. Her rambling manifestos are paralleled in the works of every other neocon/libertarian ideologue. It’s just that few of those (e.g. Strauss, Hayek, Friedman, et al) are very accessible to backwater hayseeds. Before Glenn Beck, there was Rand; a bridge between the ivory penthouses of technocracy or tenured cubbyholes of academia, and your cretinous neighbors. As loquacious as she is, she’s also transparent and repetitive. You can pick up anywhere in the book, read fifteen pages, and get the idea. She’s earnest, if severely hypocritical, with about as much guile as a Basset Hound. You can listen to a six minute interview, and be as qualified as she was to champion capitalist apologetics. If — god help you — you read the entire thing, you’ll have withstood the corporatist kirtan, and either come away with a hatred for humanity and lust for money (though a cuckold, considering the average libertarian spends their time “aspiring” to wealth), or like me, acquire a new depth of condescension toward conservatives.
Back to the “story.” After their spat regarding Jim’s false inhumanity, he meets with Rearden’s wife Lillian for some reason (I was listening to an audiobook version at an LA watering hole. Somebody said something to me, and I missed the context (but it doesn’t matter). She’s after Jim to prevent Hank’s divorce proceedings. Why ask Jim? I don’t know — I’ll assume it was explained when I mentally checked out, and move on.
There are early “hints” an affair between the two is lurching its way forward; one of those long-running sitcoms, where every character eventually does every other character, because it’s assured some sad segment of viewers would tune in specifically for that “event.” Cherryl wanders back, and winds up eavesdropping, hearing something through the bedroom door:
“She could not distinguish the words, only the quality of the sounds: Jim’s voice had a tone of irritation, the woman’s of contempt.” [emphasis added]
Naturally, she deduced that they were screwing.
Rand further demeaned Jim’s philosophical manhood by uncharacteristically limiting her description of the event to a few paragraphs; worst of all, it was consensual, meaning Jim might as well be a yodeling castrato. Unlike the gleeful, life-affirming infidelity lavishly, extensively — mind-numbingly — chronicled between Hank and Dagny, Jim and Lillian’s affair is tentative, guilty, furtive and “smutty.” Rand’s not against cheating in general, just cheating by people who won’t admit it’s an expression of her cockeyed vision of individualism. I suppose it’s the fact that neither worships the other’s strong managerial skills that makes this affair especially tawdry. They don’t understand that expressions of love and lust have nothing to with what qualified biologists and anthropologists might say, but are actually philosophical deliberations disguised as physical acts, in order to deny non-Objectivists the dignity and fulfillment of stolid, ideologically sound sex.
Confronted again by Cherryl, Jim again verbally abuses her. Then there are six or seven hundred paragraphs describing her inconsolable trot through the city, and eventually death spiral into madness. I kept seeing her pantomiming a jog toward the camera, flashing neon signs composited over her, menacing her with their vice. Signs boasting things like FARMING CO-OP, HOMELESS SHELTER, or MEXICANS. There follows a few clumsy fables illustrating the world’s cruel disregard for “innocent” oligarch groupies. A bit like Nietzsche’s Madman, if it didn’t illustrate anything.
Then she jumped in a river.
There are many pages to go, and relief will not come as briskly to me.